If I had been kicking around the summer art and festival scene longer, I never would have booked the 'Celebration of the Wheel' Festival. I most likely wouldn't have if I hadn't been in a hurry to fill my summer event schedule either. I just didn't read the description, it was close enough and fell on a July weekend that had no other shows or festivals so I booked it. I put it on the calendar then forgot all about it.
The next time I read the booking was when I parked my vintage camping trailer on a space at the country fair ground in Arborville, NC Arborville's claim to fame was a dirt race track that had started some kind of racing. Not being a race fan of any kind I hadn't known even that about the town. That race track and its history accounted for the 'Celebration of the Wheel Festival.'
The festival was to be inside the small town. The town, no more than a mile away from the fair grounds, had blocked off streets throughout the downtown for us. The Festival's first day, I discovered on a more detailed reading of the internet brochure, was to culminate with a motorcycle race at the aforementioned racetrack. I hadn't prviously bothered to read past the downtown show part. The motorcycle race did explain all the tents pitched over the fairground. It also explained the motorcycles parked helter skelter in front of the tents. There were at least a hundred just in the fairground area.
I knew for a fact that there was also a state park within ten miles of Arborville. I expected the larger motorhomes had opted for the more secure concrete pads of the state park. My little camper would most likely sit on the soft earth just fine. It had been designed for camping in the days before concrete pads were everywhere. Besides if it got stuck, the totally restored 1950 Willys Jeep could easily tow it out.
Both the camper and the Jeep had been restored by a close friend. She, yes a woman, had decided to move on to a more fun project, so I bought the pair from her cheap enough. The Jeep had been a totally factory fresh restore, but the camper had a lot of Lois in it. In other words it had a kind of feminine feel without being feminine. I know that is hard to understand but it manifested itself in things like a full length mirror. Who ever heard of a full length mirror in a camper.
Other than the mirror, the one small room had a dinning banquet. The table lowered on its center post to the level of the benches. A couple of cushions stored under the bench seats could be added to the table top to make a bed of sorts. That they tell me is a pretty typical arrangement and not especially gender specific. The fru fru upholstery of the banquet was very feminine. I would have had it replaced on day one, but Lois gave me such a good deal and she was so proud of it that I relented.
The front wall of the tiny box was a sofa bed. Even though it was sturdy, it was far to lightweight to be comfortable, It folded out to make an even less comfortable double bed. On top of that I put an eight inch air bed. The air bed made it bearable. The rear of the box should have been a bathroom, but since I didn't feel the need to be indoors for my three A.M. whiz, Lois agreed to remove the bathroom wall and convert it to a tiny work station.
The kitchen sink was no more than a five gallon plastic gas can on a shelf above a large plastic sink that drained into another five gallon gas can. One was red and the other blue. To cook, I removed a small cook top from the drawer of the camper's one cabinet. I would then screw in a propane torch bottle and light her up. The unit was sturdy as hell since Lois manufactured it herself. It also sat on its own built in ceramic hot pad. It had one burner but it was a large one. Also there was very small toaster oven. To use the toaster oven I needed to be in a real campground with real electric hookups. In the fairground I had none, but I also didn't have to pay twelve bucks a night either.
Around midnight I heard a noise so I looked up from my cheap novel. I even opened the door and looked out. What I saw was several of the other festival goers running around either nude or mostly nude. All of them had at least five tattoos. It finally dawned on me for real that I had nothing to sell those people. I sold yuppie art prepared on a computer, then printed on photographic paper. I didn't have a following yet but I did manage to cover my expenses at the art shows and festivals. Since I had a real job it didn't matter.
I probably should have just left, but I had paid for the spot so I decided to give it a try. Someone might just like art. I laughed out loud at he thought. Most likely I was going to get my butt kicked. Or maybe just have my pants pulled down in front of everyone. That's what happened to geeks I'd heard.
I had removed my sleeping bag from the giant closet, the back of the jeep, earlier. I unrolled it and climbed in, but only after having bared the door from the roaming band of half naked bikers and their chicks.
The old spring driven alarm clock woke me in time to boil water on my little stove. I could no more start a day without coffee than I could start a day without breathing. Starting without a shower was bad enough, but with the crowd I expected at that festival, it wouldn't matter much.
I set up the few shots I dared to show. They were mostly sailboat kinds of things. I know, I was at a bike rally, but I didn't think I would do any better with the flowers in a coffee can either. I did drag out a few large portraits of women. Most of them were showing a lot of cleavage. I am a man after all. As a last defiant gesture, I put three of my old Polaroid roll film cameras onto the table. More to fill space than anything else. The cameras had been converted to shoot modern film. Not the Polaroid crap, but real film like for real cameras. It was just ten times as large as what you had in your 35mm camera. I used them to make my artwork.
The morning went as I expected. Nobody stopped at my space. To be honest nobody was on the streets at all. I could count on my fingers and toes the number of people who stopped by before noon. After lunch things began to pick up slowly. I had a person stop by around two P.M. I had great difficulty in not talking her ear off. I was that bored.
"So. do you do nudes?" She asked it calmly. She was also looking me hard in the eye. She obviously thought she could tell something by my expression that the answer alone wouldn't give her.
"Not porno, but a tasteful nude of one person sure." I tried to sound as though I had done hundreds. The truth was Lois had been my only nude model and she wasn't really into it. I had done it only after having read 'The Day Books of Edward Weston". He made some great nudes and I wanted to see if I could. Lois hadn't felt at all threatened, she just didn't like her body. She was just a bit too chubby for nudes. However since Rubens managed, I gave it a good try and I even liked some of them. Of course, as I had promised in the beginning, I deleted them from my computer.
"How about just topless, would you have a problem shooting that here?"
"Here meaning what?" I asked it looking at the downtown area filling up with bikers and their chicks.
"Well not here exactly, how about that park around the corner. There are some really nice trees there."
"As long as we don't get an audience I can live with it. I don't want to turn it into anything less than what it is."
"That would depend on how fast you work." She was grinning ear to ear. "So how would I see the proofs."
"I can scan the negatives onto my computer and then email them to you. You can pick one and I'll print it and send it to you. I must warn you, it is going to look like the portraits up there. I don't shoot color. I do black and white, then colonize them like in the forties."
"If it was like everyone else's, I wouldn't want it hon," she said.
"Fair enough, write down your email first then we can go shoot."
"Ah okay," I didn't see at all but she looked as though I should. The tinsmith and his wife next to me agreed to watch my stuff while I left with the attractive redhead.
Julie really was attractive in a kind of plastic way. Her hair was red but not barn red, Just a long, puffy, auburn cover for her head. She was tall but not up to my six feet but close. Julie had a long face, but not too long, a nice nose set over thick red lips were there as well. The thing I most noticed and I'm sure most other people did as well, was her shocking blue eyes. They seemed out of place somehow on her suntanned face. They also seemed to burn a hole in me whenever she focused on me.
.... There is more of this story ...